Monday, December 29, 2008

family fun at Blue Moon this week

Monday 12/29 at 11 a.m.: Kwanzaa for kids - lunch & learn, including Kwanzaa craft and candy making. $10 per child includes lunch & craft materials.

Tuesday 12/30 at 11 a.m.-noon: Storytime with Tricia Fitzgerald.

Wednesday 12/31 at 11 a.m.-12:30: Kids' New Year's Eve with Professor Becker & his guitar - New Year's countdown at noon - wrap up the year with songs and noisemakers - $10 per child includes lunch & noisemaker crafts.

Space is limited, so reservations are a good idea. 773-840-3618. Enjoy fun and tasty sweets at Blue Moon, 1742 W. 99th St.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

all mixed up

I wanted to share a thoughtful article from the Times (London) about the difficulties faced by people of mixed race.

A couple of friends face this situation with their son. She is black. Her husband is white. There are other interracial marriages and relationships in their families and circle of friends, so they have support and acceptance. I wonder how many challenges their son will face when he starts school and grows up.

When my mother was growing up in Hyde Park in the 1940s and 1950s, her family became close friends with a black family living around the corner. They were like extended family to each other, and some in each family remain close. I've always thought of them like family. I'd rather judge someone by who they are and how they treat others than by their race or ethnicity. It disappoints me that Chicago has made so little progress in overcoming segregation and discrimination in the last 60 years.

I find that life has more balance and richness in an integrated neighborhood. It was good to see the article in today's Chicago Tribune about an integrated block in Beverly. I hope that Chicago will have many more blocks like it by the time my friends' son is an adult.

here comes the sun

After the hellish weather transitions of the last few days, it's really great to see sun and clean pavement. This Beatles favorite says it well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

wotta year for weather

Tom Skilling's weather graphics offer a soggy piece of this year's weather picture.

democracy diminished

Democracy has less than its full potential without a truly free press to challenge corruption and thoughtfully present ideas. David Byrne has written an excellent piece on the plight of newspapers and how it affects the bigger picture.

save a vet

This animal-related charity may be unfamiliar, but its beneficiaries deserve our appreciation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

help ease the flood

If you have basic garden tools like a steel-bladed shovel or a hoe, please consider spending some time tonight or tomorrow chopping ice away from the street drain closest to your house. The street flooding we're having now will only get worse with tomorrow's rain unless drains are cleared of ice and snow and water can drain away.

I just came in after spending a while chopping away. If you can't completely clear a drain, even making a path from open water towards the drain and chopping away some of the ice from on top of the drain will help. If all that standing water freezes when it gets cold again, we'll need ice skates to get around.

human slinky

This basketball halftime entertainment is fun and different. If you've got kids in the house, they may enjoy it. Watch to the end.

funky Friday

A different version of Chameleon for your listening pleasure....

Illinois distinction

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

a Malkovich Christmas

A suitably Malkovichy version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Cheers!

Zuzu reflects

A few thoughts from the actress who played Zuzu in "It's a Wonderful Life."

holiday sites for the kids

Here's a good selection for the little ones.

jingle jingle

Click here for a clever musical e-card. Wait for PLAY to appear on the screen, then click again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

snowy owls

Interesting nature article from the Evanston Review.

biking for Obama

A cyclist is riding from L.A. to D.C. for the inauguration, making a statement and hoping to pick up other riders on the way.

Logan Square bike tour 12/27

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, you might want to check out this Logan Square bike tour on Saturday at 1 p.m. This series explores neighborhood architecture and the unique character of different Chicago neighborhoods.

New to riding in winter? Check out the Bike Winter web site for a few tips.

reggae Christmas

Christmas a come

a silly holiday gift guide

...courtesy of Dave Barry...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa for cynics

Tim Jackson
Chicago Defender, Madison …
Dec 22, 2008

a Christmas alternative

If you don't celebrate Christmas and you're looking for something fun to do, check out the Bagel Ride. Not sure about riding in winter? Go to the Bike Winter web site for a few tips.

holiday silliness

Leroy the Redneck Reindeer

real winners

Our sheriff had a creative idea to pick up a lot of folks who had warrants for their arrest. Priceless!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

if the shoe fits...

Here's another shoe game.

And just in case you haven't seen it, here's the infamous shoe video that started it all....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a little bit of Elvis

Blue Christmas

UPS by bike

How cool is this? And here's another article about it with a picture.

a musical journey of sorts

I've been enjoying an internet radio treat this a.m., listening to Blues Before Sunrise on KMHD, a station I discovered on a recent trip to Portland, OR.

Listening to internet radio from different time zones offers the opportunity to hear programs you might not hear at all, or might not catch in their regular time slots in your local area. It also lets you revisit good stations you might discover on vacation. I found this gem on a trip to Key West a few years ago. I found this Danish treasure trove while web surfing a few years ago. The text is all in Danish, but most of the station names are fairly obvious.

The sponsors for this nationally syndicated NPR show were all Chicago-area venues and groups like Mike Finnerty, local jazz sax player, Bill's Blues Bar in Evanston, Jazz Record Mart, Old Town School of Folk Music and others - with our jazz treasure Dick Buckley giving the sponsor info. It's good to hear his voice again. I still miss his show.

Friday, December 19, 2008

new seal of gov. of IL

a rather apt cartoon

King Richie's Bilandic moment?

Lots of folks are questioning the city's decision to privatize parking meters and raise rates. The minimal plowing and salting order for side streets (and less than usual for main streets) is icing on the cake for those who have their doubts. All the snow we're getting tonight makes this a less then cheery image.

Will this be King Richie's Bilandic moment, where he throws himself under the bus? In recent years, there has been no enforcement of the city's ordinance requiring property owners to keep sidewalks clear, so many pedestrians have gotten used to walking on well-cleared streets for safer footing. Now side streets are slick with black ice on most days. This winter, the safest place has been across snowy lawns, until those get glazed over with ice. Many El platforms hasn't been any better, as the CTA also seems to be skimping on snow and ice removal. Yesterday morning I was in downtown Evanston and major streets were glazed with ice - no salt in sight. Metra seems to be the only one doing the responsible, honorable thing and keeping their stations safe.

If you weren't here back in the winter of 1978-79 and you want a little more background, click here and here.

How many people will end up with chronic injuries due to preventable slip and falls or car crashes? You gotta wonder if city and CTA costs of defending and settling lawsuits for injury, wrongful death and property damage will greatly exceed savings on salt, trucks and personnel. And this comes soon after the news about how much the city saved with its long-term contract on road salt. Too bad he's not up for re-election this winter.

And the fun continues....

wotta slime

Nothing this guy says should surprise me anymore. How much of the money that Illinois DOESN'T have will be wasted as Blobhead "fights this to the last breath." Sheesh! I will celebrate on the day he's sent to Club Fed.

telling stories

A few folks have something to say about Jesse Jackson, Jr. John Kass of the Trib has a funnier-than-usual column. The videos linked to this one have some amusing moments. Stick around for the one about the nude Blago painting in the Old Town bar. Second City Cop has some winners as well.

Meanwhile, Tony Rezko's sentencing has been delayed indefinitely. I interpret this to mean that he's singing like a canary.

funky Friday

Two from Steely Dan: Black Cow and Time out of Mind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

bikey holidays

Here's a creative holiday video from Specialized. Cheers!

snow brrr ride

Last night I got out for a nice bike ride. Didn't care that it was 10F. The street conditions were okay, so I bundled up to go out. It was a beautiful, still night. Managed to see a few stars and planets in spite of the street lights. Traffic was light. If I had truly arctic gear that I could ride in, perhaps more than 6 miles might be comfortable in that temperature. I didn't see any other bikes out and about. Happy Bike Winter!

an Illinois Christmas carol

I got this via e-mail. Wish I knew who wrote it.

This is to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Wake up, old Rod Blagojevich, the Feds just rang your bell.
Just step outside ... and take a ride ... no time for extra gel.
They heard the tape ... there's no mistake ...
This state's half-way to Hell.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

How could you, Rod Blagojevich, this really has me beat.
It wasn't nice ... to put a price .... on that there Senate seat
The way you threatened Wrigley Field
How can the Cubs compete?
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Get real there, Rod Blagojevich, you're much too smart a man
Remember what this state has done to Otto, George and Dan.
If Durbin doesn't write a note
You'll join them in the can.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, save Illinois! Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blago blurbs

Has anyone made up spoof lyrics along the lines of "Blago roasting on an open fire"? If so, please share in comments.

Here's some commentary with just a bit of cynicism.

Lisa Madigan's attempt to have Blago removed due to "disability" has been rejected by the Supreme Court. That was a long shot at best, so I found it disappointing but not surprising. And Blago's lawyer strikes back.

Meanwhile, the plop thickens. And here's an interesting footnote to the story.

This old Richard J. Daley makes another interesting footnote: "Power is dangerous unless you have humility."

Stay tuned for more....

well said

Here's an excellent analysis of our current economic crisis by a fine local blogger.

needs to get a clue

Has this guy ever heard of personal responsibility?

aren't his 15 minutes up already?

Why are we still hearing about Drew Peterson, unless enough evidence has been found to arrest him for Stacy’s murder? Is anyone still interested in this loser? I certainly don’t care about any aspect of his personal life. Yuck!

family fun tonight at Blue Moon

Blue Moon is hosting a Family Gingerbread House Workshop tomorrow night at 6PM in conjunction with Cakewalk Chicago - $65 per family - limit 6 individuals. One family member MUST be over 21. Includes ALL materials to create your own gingerbread house! EXPERT INSTRUCTION from professional pastry chef Lori Parret-Rice. Hot chocolate, too!

one step closer

Sounds like we're getting closer to seeing a resolution to the roadblocks that have been holding up the EJ&E/CN deal. The sooner the better.... This would benefit a LOT of Chicago area communities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

when green is not so green

Using more glass to let in more light has become a popular design feature in green buildings. However, it can have some unintended consequences.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


A Saturday Night Live Weekend Update take on this week's Blago news.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

music at Blue Moon tonight

Barrelhouse Bonni is playing at Blue Moon tonight, 7:30 to 10.

more on the big rat

The Economist weighs in from the UK. The Reader gives it a local spin.

Blago appeals to a higher power. Meanwhile, I smell a rat.

And then we address the question, does power really change a person, or does it reveal their true nature?

Stay tuned for more....

Friday, December 12, 2008

kinda nutty

This is the sort of animal story that would do Unca Lar proud.

Bike Winter

Do you want to get out for some fun winter bike rides? Check out the Bike Winter calendar. There are LOTS of events happening in the next month.

it's beginning to smell...

Higgins has a great cartoon commentary in today's Sun-Times.

funky Friday

Here's an oldie from Herbie Hancock: Chameleon. Happy Friday!

a Letterman top 10

More political fun at Blago's expense: David Letterman's top 10 list of messages left on Rod Blagojevich's answering machine. TGIF!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the circus continues

The Trib invites you to name that scandal.

Even Dan Walker weighs in.

Meanwhile, the idea of clemency for Ryan takes a back seat.

Rumors have Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn choosing Atty. General Lisa Madigan, who is considered bulletproof, to fill Obama's Senate seat, if Quinn moves up to Blago's spot. This would be a primo bit of political chess, as Madigan is already thinking of running for governor in the next election, and Quinn would want to stick around.

and there's more...

This morning's news included the revelation that Blobhead was trying to land a BIG contribution from a pavement contractor before a new ethics law takes effect on 1/1 specifically aimed at preventing the type of pay-to-play tactics he's so fond of.

write your own caption

The Sun-Times invites you to write your own caption for this choice photo.

a bit of popular humor

This bit of humor has been making the rounds via e-mail. I don't know originated it. Thank you to the anonymous author. Enjoy!

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations.
The Library will include:
1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
7. The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
8. The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
9. The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
10. The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your 1st visit, they make you go back for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and sometimes 5th visit.)
11. The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
13. The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
14. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
15. The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:

1. 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
2. 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
3. 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'
4. 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'
5. 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
6. 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
7. 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
8. 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
9. 'The future will be better tomorrow.'
10. 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
11. 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)
12. 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'
13. 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
14. 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
15. 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.' - Geoge W. Bush to Sam Donaldson

In the words of another humor item I saw recently: "1/20/09: the end of an error."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

political theater

For those of you reading from outside the Chicago area or Illinois, our governor has earned a generous measure of contempt for repeatedly putting his gigantic ego above his responsibilities to the citizens of Illinois, in lengthy battles over the state budget and other matters of significant impact. Hearing that he had finally been arrested was a fine early Christmas gift.

This Blago story has given us a wealth of entertainment, especially for those who prefer humor in a more cynical vein. We have stories from John Kass, Serbia, Carol Marin, and Blago's neighbors, speculation about Dick Mell, Patti's role, commentary on the criminal complaint, all 50 Senate Democrats weighing in, thoughts on Patti's sister's political career, and more.... If you are not easily offended, here's more from Second City Cop, where some of the comments are really choice.

One of the best is these clips from TV talk shows. The first video montage is the best of the three.

For those of you who are saying "wait a minute, what did I miss?" here's a story about the arrest that spawned all the articles yesterday and today, and the criminal complaint itself.

This 1978 Studs Terkel quote puts it into perspective: "Chicago is not the most corrupt American city. It's the most theatrically corrupt."


This one goes out to Rod Blagojevich. Hope it's his last birthday as a free man.

Prop. 8 the musical

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

protect yourself

Recently I heard about a west loop attack that made me think about my experiences with self defense. A young man and woman were walking on a west loop street in early evening. A man approached and started assaulting them. The male victim covered on the ground. His female companion struck the assailant in several vulnerable spots, inflicting enough pain to drop him to the ground, enabling her and her friend to escape. I've seen plenty of examples to prove that you don't have to be big or heavily muscled to effectively defend yourself.

On Wed. 1/7 at 6:30 PM, there will be a free Women's Self-Defense Class at the Lincoln Park REI store. It will taught by instructors from Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center, a Chicago non-profit organization. Participants will learn how to accurately assess areas of danger in their lives and increase their awareness, self-confidence, and safety. The class includes mental strategies to help you think clearly under stress; assertive communication skills to help you set a limit or de-escalate a tense situation; and positioning strategies to limit your engagement and reduce vulnerability. They also teach simple and effective strikes and kicks to stun an assailant if avoidance is impossible. Space is limited! Email Claire at by Jan.2 to reserve your spot.

If you've never taken a self defense class, or it's been a while and you'd like a refresher, you may want to check this out. If you could use a self defense class but can't make this one, perhaps taking a class at Thousand Waves or Power for Women might be an option. The mental strategies taught in such a class are every bit as useful as the physical ones.

protest tomorrow at B of A

FYI - There is a protest planned for tomorrow at noon regarding the Republic Windows fiasco and consequences of the bank bailout. Click here for more details.

a Zell of a deal

Roger Ebert wrote a rather apt piece on the mess Sam Zell has made of the Tribune. I'd love to see the Trib sold to someone who actually wants to run a newspaper and can rebuild it from the shattered mess it has become.

** breaking news **

I just heard on the radio that Gov. Blobhead was taken into federal custody this a.m., retrieved from his home. Will an indictment and a resignation be forthcoming soon? That would be a Christmas gift, seeing the Grinch get his comeuppance. Perhaps we'll get a chance to see what Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn can do. Unlike the Blobster, he seems to have an actual clue.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

snow ride

I went out for a short snow ride this morning. The mountain bike handled just fine on the snowy streets. Of course, I was using techniques I've used in previous winters of snow riding: going slow, taking turns wide, braking slowly, and doing more to be visible to drivers, who usually aren't looking out for bikes in this weather. It was a pleasant ride.

Between 95th & 99th, I didn't see much clean pavement except on Leavitt (haven't been down to Longwood yet). North of 95th, a bunch of streets were cleared, and the plows were still making the rounds. Of course Ginger Rugai can have clear streets up by her house, but the rest of us can just slide around. This may be a loooong winter.

I feel like I'm in college again

I was listening to the Drive at work yesterday. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on. We have a college student as a part-time employee. She asked "Who does that song?" I said "Journey" and asked if she knew any of their music. She said she'd only heard this song in drunken late night karaoke sessions and was curious when she heard it on the radio. I remember listening to this one when I was in college.

This made me think of the story of how Journey recently found a new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, something that couldn't have happened back in the 80s. Here's his version of "Don't Stop Believing." Steve Perry, eat your heart out.

another musical thought

Here's one to add a little heat to the day. Here's a very different and equally cool version of the same tune. On a related note, I'm looking forward to seeing Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera soon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

welcome to Chicago

This a.m. I was in line at the post office. I overheard a guy at another window who was not having a good day, a Brit who had lived a short while in NYC and recently moved here. Apparently his mail forwarding was all screwed up, and very little mail was actually reaching him. The postal employee wasn't terribly helpful.

Reminds me of what I went through last time I moved. I ended up being very grateful that most of my mail was going directly to my new address and NOT being forwarded because I sent out notices to EVERYONE that I was moving. Most people actually recorded my new address and used it next time they sent something, so very few pieces had to be forwarded. Unfortunately, only 2 of them actually reached me. The rest disappeared into the USPS black hole or were returned to sender, even though I had a forwarding order on file with the post office before I moved.

I wonder if the Brit at the post office will get his forwarding problem resolved before his 1-year forwarding order expires. Seems unlikely.

Captain Chicago, episode 1

a bit of local humor and Chicago triviaChi

the Matrix on Windows

If you have a moderate amount of computer knowledge and are familiar with The Matrix, you'll find this one amusing. Clippy and the blue screen of death await....this is the Matrix on Windows.

on ice

I was amazed to read the news about O.J. Simpson's stiff jail sentence. As a co-worker put it, the Juice got squeezed.

not-so-funky Friday

The cast of Scrubs does "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - had to bring this fine bit of silliness back for the season. Cheers!

downsizing, Detroit style

I don't always find Steve Dahl funny, but this is both timely and clever.

a musical thought

Stepping outside to grab the paper from the front steps inspired a musical thought. I saw a fine version of this tune performed by Beverly All-Stars and musical guests recently.

BTW, am I the only one who's noticed that they deliver newspaper a lot later on the south side than the north side? It's not just in this neighborhood.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Historic Pullman candlelight house walk

On Sunday 12/7, the Historic Pullman Foundation will be having its 14th holiday candlelight house walk from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Tour select Pullman homes decorated for the holidays, followed by holiday buffet and silent auction at the Visitor Center, 11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Tickets are $40 per person. (TODAY) is the last day to call 773.785.8901 for reservations (required).

silver lining

I've noticed one silver lining in the clouds of this economic downturn: Sam Zell's plans to butcher the elegant Art Deco Daily News building and plaza are put on hold.

Shrub's parting shots at the environment

I hope that Barack Obama will take swift action to undo Shrub's last crimes against the environment. He's just approved the end of one minimal restriction on mountaintop removal coal mining referenced in the article, so that mining companies are no longer required to maintain a 100 foot buffer zone between mining areas and streams. Shrub's administration has so blatantly disregarded any concern for the environment that it could take years to undo those portions of the damage that can be undone.

life on the river

It's a pleasant change of pace to see positive stories like this one in the news.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sears saves the day

My morning got off to an annoying start. My alarm went off at the usual time. I reached out to turn it off. Pushed the snooze button. It kept beeping. Switched the alarm switch to OFF. Still beeping. Tried switching alarm switch on and off a few times and pushing snooze again. Still beeping. I had to turn on the light and try to pull the plug. *($%!! plug was all the way across the bed, below the head of my still-snoozing significant other. I had to wake him up, get him to move the bed away from the wall, then pull the plug. The alarm was finally silenced.

I left earlier than usual for work, with the goal of finding a replacement for my old, fried clock radio. Stopped at the old reliable electronics store around the corner from my office. Several clock radio models on display, but only one model in stock: a tiny travel alarm. One of my cats likes to turn small easily flung objects into projectiles. This travel alarm was the perfect size to become a cat hockey puck and be turned into a defunct piece of junk in short order. Next stop: the drug store on the corner. No luck.

At lunchtime, I took a walk to Sears on State St. and found a great solution to my problem - a product with some cool features. I don't usually plug products, but thought this might be useful for some of you. BTW, I've often thought this store is rather underappreciated.

thoughts about getting around in Chicago

Ch. 5 (NBC) has an online poll asking how you get around. And another feature asks the question: does Mayor Daley hate cars?

Feel free to leave a comment here offering your $0.02 on these topics.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

an inside perspective

Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe discusses Valerie Jarrett's perspective on Barack Obama.

I feel strongly that pragmatic hope is what we need. Unrealistic promises will not do our country or others any favors.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Yet another news story that leaves me speechless. Were the people who committed this horrible act as callous as this? Will any of these people have a conscience and turn themselves in?

I am thoroughly disgusted

Senator Dick Durbin has done some positive things during his time in Washington. This is not one of them. While Ryan has certainly paid a price for his trial and conviction, it pales in comparison to the suffering caused by his corruption. I can feel some sympathy for Ryan's wife. However, no matter what lame half-assed apologies Ryan may grudgingly offer, it doesn't bring back the lives that were snuffed out by drivers who should never have been licensed. He has earned his punishment. He should serve his sentence.